When France Is More Than France

Yesterday we looked at the result of, but today I want to talk about covering of the French presidential election. It dovetails nicely with a recent story here in the states about Hawaii.

Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticised a court ruling because it came from a judge “on some island in the Pacific”. That island, of course, is Oahu. Oahu is one of several islands that comprise the state of Hawaii, including the eponymous island. But it does not matter that the state is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is one of the fifty states of the union. And in terms of population, it isn’t even the smallest state. Should we not care about court decisions in Wyoming because so few people live there? No, because it is one of the fifty states.

Where Hawaii falls within the 50 states
Where Hawaii falls within the 50 states

Now you are likely asking, what does that have to do with the French presidential election? Well, it has to do with choropleth maps of French results. Well, most likely you were not looking at a map of the French Republic. Take this map from the New York Times.

Here be France
Here be France

It looks like France, but it’s only a part of France. Instead, we have France 24 presenting the map correctly. The thing missing? All those little geographies around the border.

The real France
The real France

You may recall that France at one point had an empire. At home, France was organised into state-like entities called departments. By contrast, the United Kingdom had an empire with its home territories organised into counties. Then in the 20th century, both empires began to dissolve. In the UK that meant independence for most places, but others transitioned from colonies to crown dependencies, e.g. Gibraltar and until 1997 Hong Kong. But technically, they are not part of the United Kingdom. (Don’t get me started on the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey.)

In France, there were some conflicts—here’s looking at you French Indochina/Vietnam—and some independence. But for those that did gain independence, the territories took a different track from the crown dependences in the UK. France integrated them into the French Republic and made them full-on departments. (It is a little bit more complicated than that, but for now we’ll keep it simple.) So now, if you visit Canada and take a day trip to St. Pierre and Miquelon, you are stepping on France. This is also different from Puerto Rico and the United States, where Puerto Rico is not fully part of the United States.

And so what does this mean for electoral purposes? Well, as you have probably figured out, this all means that French elections are geographically broader than those of the UK or the US. Gibraltar does not vote for Parliament and so you will not see it on the June election maps. In 2016, notice how you did not see Puerto Rico in the US presidential election maps. But because of how France integrated its former colonies as departments, Cayenne, French Guiana gets as much of a say on the French president as does Paris.

So remember, next time you look at a map of France on Europe, it’s like looking at a map of the United States without Alaska and Hawaii. Because France too exists on an island in the Pacific. It’s called New Caledonia.

Marine Le Pen’s Chances

Last Friday the Economist published this article about the odds of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front party, winning the French presidential election in April. You may recall I focused on other things last Friday. So today we have this graphic.

Without a majority of the vote, the top two vote earners move to a second round
Without a majority of the vote, the top two vote earners move to a second round

But this morning news broke about new allegations over fraudulent claims by Le Pen and the National Front. This, after claims of fraud against Fançois Fillon and some unhelpful remarks about Algeria from Emmanuel Macron, could be enough to make the French presidential election a complete toss up.

But for now we just wait to see if the rise of populist nationalism continues.

Credit for the piece goes to the Economist’s graphics department.

Timeline of Recent French Terrorism Attacks

Yesterday the French Catholic community of Rouen was attacked by an alleged IS terror group. In the aftermath the BBC put together a graphic published inside a broader piece. The graphic documented the recent history of terror attacks in France.

When you read or scroll through the overall piece, a bit more symmetry could be added by aligning dates to the central column. That would make the dates more easily comparable. Though it should be noted the important point is made by the rapid clustering of events in the most recent time period.

And for a personal quibble, I believe that timelines are more effective when the most recent date is at the top. Presume the timeline starts in the 1950s during the middle of the Algerian War fought between France and Algeria, which at the time was an integral part of France. Would we want to read all those incidents from the 1950s and 60s? Likely no. Instead, we could scroll down the entirety of the piece. Here, however, we start in the relative calm of 2012, 2013, and early 2014.

Timeline of terror attacks in France
Timeline of terror attacks in France

Credit for the piece goes to the BBC graphics department.

The Perception vs Reality of Islam in Europe

Last week’s terror attacks in Paris highlight the tension in Europe between secular Europe and those believing in Islamist values. The Economist looked at some of the available data and noted the gap between Europe’s perception of Islam and its reality. A quick figure called out for France, French respondents thought 31% of the French population to be Muslim. The reality is a mere 8%.

Perception vs reality
Perception vs reality

Credit for the piece goes to the Economist Data Team.

French Politics, Elections, and Data Visualisations.

The US is not the only country with elections in 2012. Actually quite a few other places have had them, will have them, or are in the midst of having them. The latter includes France, which had the first round of its presidential election earlier this week.

To put it simply, France has a first round to narrow the whole field to just two candidates—lots of democracies outside the US have multiple party systems that mean more than just two parties—and then a second round between the last two. Nicholas Sarkozy was thought likely to win the first round and then lose the second, but he instead lost the first outright. He still isn’t expected to do well in two weeks’ time. But, the French media of course produce infographics just as US, Canadian, and British media do. Except unlike the last three, French infographics tend to be in French and I tend to not read them because, well, I cannot.

But pictures and colours make it easier. Socialists like red. Centre-right like blue.

From Le Figaro comes a map of the results. The island-looking thing on the right is Paris, beneath that Corsica, and then the bottom are the various overseas territories and departments that all vote.

Election results by French department
Election results by French department

The question with French presidential elections—and in fact any country that has run-off elections—is what happens to the voters of the losers? For whom will they vote in the second round? Le Figaro also has an interactive piece that allows the user to play out different scenarios based on how many voters will not show up and of those who do, how they split their vote. Again, it’s in French, so I had to assume some things when playing around with the controls and then know a few things about French politics.

Scenario builder for Round 2
Scenario builder for Round 2

From Le Monde, another respected French media source that I have featured on more than one occasion, come some simpler visualisations of the results but with some nice features for comparison. The first is obviously a look at the 2007 results. (Anybody recall Segolene Royal? Her ex-husband/partner is Francois Hollande…the guy running for the Socialists this time round.)

Election results of 2007
Election results of 2007

But another interesting view is that of the results strictly from 2012’s first round.

Election results 2012, Round 1
Election results 2012, Round 1

But with the added feature of comparing those results per party to their performance in 2007.

Round 1 comparison, 2012 to 2007
Round 1 comparison, 2012 to 2007

There are always interesting things going on in politics when it comes to data visualisation and infographics. We just have to look outside the US from time to time.